REGARDING THE COVID-19 SCHOOL YEAR
Through the years, I have learned that so much of what transpires historically in the big arena can be applied in parallel manner to our personal lives. Historical data supports the conclusion that inaccurate and impulsive communication typically contributes to heightened anxieties and regrettable actions. During the COVID-19 school year reality, my professional commitment to meaningful presentation of material in a duteous fashion will continue to be the APUSH norm.
I have ever been an ardent enemy of any factor which might corrupt an authentic, scholarly pursuit of American history. The number of subversive elements is seemingly endlessrefer to HARD HISTORY on the APUSH Website to see the entire group! Some of the infiltrators are very cunning and subtle . . . almost germ-like. For 2020-21, we can add COVID-19 to the list.
I refuse to allow COVID-19 ugliness to contaminate all the wonderful things about APUSH which have become standards of excellence over the years. What comes to mind? No time will be allotted to tantrums about face masks or social distancing in the classroom. No value will be given to manipulating RCAS modifications into hardships about accessing material and meeting deadlines. When we discuss culture, economics, politics, religion, and society (that's every day in history class, right?), we will be diligent to avoid value judgments and historical scoreboards. Most APUSHers believe they have signed up for an upper echelon, no-nonsense course (expectations and outcomes, both) . . . yes, that is my understanding, as well.
In the past, I have offered numerous after-hours sessions for content review and national exam preparation. This year, I foresee those opportunities made available through Zoom sessions. I will emphasize that while they are optional, they are nevertheless highly recommended.
Everything which transpires in APUSH revolves around an axis of genuine academics (not robotic memorization of mere unconnected facts); positive group dynamics (including common courtesy and open communication); the health/protection/safety of all classroom occupants; Tubbs's 3 Rs of respect (for all), responsibility (for self), and reality (versus utopia); and wholesome enjoyment of life in general and celebration of diversity in particular.
This past June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the preeminent authority on medical matters, emphasized its recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings when they are with persons outside of their home, especially when it is difficult to maintain social distancing. "Cloth face coverings are recommended as a simple barrier to help prevent respiratory droplets from traveling into the air and onto other people when the person wearing the cloth face covering coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice. This is called source control," states the CDC. "This recommendation is based on what we know about the role respiratory droplets play in the spread of the coronavirus, paired with emerging evidence from clinical and laboratory studies that shows cloth face coverings reduce the spray of droplets when worn over the nose and mouth."
In early August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its newest guidance for safe school re-openings. The CDC is recommending face masks in class (students five years of age and older, with few exceptions) and in naturally crowded places such as hallways and busses. According to the CDC: "When used consistently and correctly, along with important mitigation strategies [hand washing, social distancing, and avoiding crowds], cloth face coverings are important to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Appropriate and consistent use of cloth face coverings is most important when students, teachers, and staff are indoors and when social distancing of at least six feet is difficult to implement or maintain." And so it is.
At this moment in history, America is struggling in more ways than one. In my opinion, we do not need to totally agree, but we do need to work toward agreement. If our energy is used to fuss and whine, we become part of the problem instead a contributor to the solution. I encourage you to confine the "politics" regarding COVID-19 to emulate the words of George H. W. Bush when, in 1989, he called for a "kinder and gentler America." In 1961, John F. Kennedy addressed social responsibility in perhaps the most famous inaugural statement ever: "Ask not what your country can do for you; [instead] ask what you can do for your country." If we approach the COVID-19 abnormality in a manner which reflects the words of both former Presidents, we will have taken the higher road, even though we might disagree here and there. Reasonable?
I want to do history in APUSH. I do not want the weather to stand in the way. I do not want somebody's favorite color to stand in the way. I do not want the result of Monday Night Football to stand in the way. The more attention we give to fringe and fluff, the less passion we have in our tank for what's really important (superficiality versus substance).
Be assured that I am totally focused on providing high-level academic opportunities and exam strategies for APUSHers while we all continue to cope with the COVID-19 invasion. I have solid experience reading/scoring APUSH national exams. I am in touch with a fine group of college professors from around the country regarding various teaching strategies. As far as APUSH is concerned, you can rest easyI will not permit any agent to impede our educational mission. Please join my effort to make this year's APUSH journey as enjoyable and fruitful as ever, in spite of the COVID-19 uproar.